Say his name and you feel like standing straighter -- you think of truthfulness, and integrity. (And actually, I do stand straighter.)
Without beating around the bush, Colin Powell says what he thinks.
His opinion echoes and reverberates --what he said gains substance and significance as it gets around town.
If Colin Powell had run for president, I would have probably voted for him. There was a time when he was a possible vice president on the Democratic ticket; another election when he could have been the Republican candidate.
As a military man, he's known as "the reluctant warrior." Powell has rarely advocated military intervention as the first solution to an international crisis, and usually prescribed diplomacy and containment. In his autobiography, Powell said he is haunted by the nightmare of the Vietnam War.
The reluctant warrior aspects of Colin Powell are very important to me, and what he's said about other major issues -- his clarity, and confrontation of realities, help me figure out what I feel.
Powell could not continue working as Secretary of State for G.W. Bush, because he was not told the truth -- Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. Powell did not want the U.S. to go to war with Iran. He believes Gitmo should be closed. He believes torture is against all principles of American Justice.
Here's the "biggie" that made me cheer, and applaud what he was saying, even though it was on television!
Announcing that he was breaking with his party, and voting for Sen. Barack Obama, Powell said, "He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure. I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and you have to take that into account -- as well as his substance -- he has both style and substance. He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."
Later in the broadcast, Powell noted the "over the top" negative tone of the GOP campaign, as well as in McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee, "...who is clearly not prepared to be the president ... " (Powell mentioned that Obama's vice presidental choice, Joe Biden, was.)
Later in the broadcast, Powell said that Palin pushed the Republican party further to the right and has had a polarizing impact on it. (Anything negative that's said about Palin, assuages my fear that she'll be running for president in 2012 -- I'm worrying where the Democrats will be, afraid that Obama won't run for a second term.)
Anyhow, Colin Powell, who supported the Don't ask Don't tell policy is now strongly against it, and also ( this is important to me), he's pro-choice on abortion.
(Is it his wife's influence? At one point, when there was talk about him running for president, I remember he mentioned his wife's concern that they live their lives, have their time together, and not risk his life.)
"I don't want to describe the hate mail we've gotten," Alma Johnson Powell said. "One day I got two letters -- one telling me what a wonderful man I was married to and how much the country needed him; the other said Colin Powell is a scum bag and proceeded to list all his evils."
Alma Powell mentioned some people who'd journeyed across the country, discovered where she and her husband live, and showed up on their doorstep. That scared her, even when the callers were fans. Her grim conclusion: "A black man running for president is going to be in a dangerous position."
(I've written about this; fearing that Michelle and Barack Obama have this hanging over them. See my posts "Please God," 4/7, and 11/24, "Inciting Would-be Assassins.")
I fear it, and fear for them. I think there are lot of Americans who can't stand the fact that a Black President is shaping American ideas, and policies, and trying to solve some of our country's problems.
Powell's strength, strong mind, and popularity cheers me up -- also, the fact that what he supports is not connected to any political party -- it's what he's examined, considered, and concluded is right for America.
Here's what he said quite recently:
That's why I salute him, and hope you'll salute him with me.